Columbus Ga. (WRBL) –The number of Georgians who have died from COVID-19 has now surpassed 20,000. As of 3 p.m. on Sept. 3, 2021, there have been 20,041 confirmed COVID deaths in the state of Georgia since the pandemic began.
“Since we’ve had the vaccine a lot of these deaths, unfortunately, are people who have not been vaccinated,” Pamela Kirkland, Public Relations and Information Coordinator for Georgia Department of Public Health West Central Health District, said of the milestone. “We really want to make sure that everyone gets the message to get out and get vaccinated that will help you if you do get COVID prevent serious illness and death.”
“It is tragic but not surprising that we have surpassed this grim milestone of 20,000 COVID deaths in our state,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner in a news release. “97 percent of COVID deaths since we’ve had vaccine are in unvaccinated individuals. These deaths are preventable.”
Health officials say COVID vaccines are safe and effective at protecting against COVID-19 infections. COVID vaccines also help prevent severe illness and death if an individual does get sick. The vaccines also reduce the risk of people spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
COVID cases are surging in Georgia, driven by the delta variant, according to health officials. The delta variant is more transmissible than the original SARS-CoV-2 and research shows that it results in a higher rate of severe illness and hospitalization than other variants. COVID-19 is spreading fastest in areas with low vaccination rates. Currently, only 44% of Georgians are fully vaccinated.
Health officials are urging all Georgians aged 12 and older to get vaccinated, wear a mask in public settings and wash their hands frequently.
According to health officials, the COVID vaccines are available statewide and is the best tool for ending this pandemic and reducing the overwhelming strain on EMS, the healthcare system and healthcare providers. To find a COVID vaccination location, log on to https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-vaccine.
COVID testing is recommended immediately for anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Additionally, individuals who have had a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be tested, even if they are fully vaccinated.
People who are fully vaccinated should get tested 3-5 days after exposure. Unvaccinated individuals should quarantine and be tested immediately after being identified, and, if negative, tested again in 5–7 days after last exposure. To find testing locations, log on to https://dph.georgia.gov/covidtesting. Please do not go to hospital emergency rooms for COIVD testing.